Solving Oil Water Separator Problems

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Refinery Wastewater Management Using Multiple Angle Oil Water Separators

John N. Veenstra, Ph.D., P.E.,
Oklahoma State University,

Kirby S. Mohr, P.E.
Mohr Separations Research, Inc.
Lewisville, Tx

and Dee Ann Sanders, Ph.D., P.E.
Oklahoma State University


In this work, an overview of oil-water separation as used in the petroleum refining industries is presented along with case studies. Discussions include impact of solids, legal aspects, and differing types of systems currently in use along with advantages and disadvantages. Performance information on separators is presented with emphasis on new multiple-angle coalescing plate technology for refinery wastewater management.

Several studies are presented including a large (20,000 US gpm flow rate) system recently installed at a major US refinery. The separator was constructed by converting two existing API separators into four separators and adding multiple-angle coalescing plates to increase throughput and efficiency. A year of operating experience with this system indicates good performance and few problems. Other examples provide information on separators installed in the United States and other countries.